Science and Salvation
What is happening when we do eye surgery, rescue a heart-attack victim, and build tsunami warning systems?
We are using science to participate in the redemptive work of Jesus Christ!
I am really excited to see the look of surprise, even disbelief, when I mention this in science classes. But it's a great opportunity to discuss the cosmic scope of that great Scriptural theme of creation, fall, and redemption. Oftentimes, Christians affirm that Jesus Christ came to save sinners, but rarely do we recognize that salvation is as broad as the entire cosmos.
What was Jesus's reply to John the Baptist, when John sent his followers to find out if Jesus was indeed the Messiah? "Go and report to John what you hear and see: the blind receive sight and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them" (Matthew 11:4-5, NASB). Jesus was clearly referring to Isaiah's prophesies (see Isaiah 35:5 and 61:1). Jesus did not come to whisk people's souls off to a state of eternal bliss, but addressed people's needs in the here and now. God's good creation had been disrupted by the fall, and one day a new earth will be where God dwells with his people.
The development of the laser, originally a scientific curiosity based on obscure principles of quantum physics, is now being used to restore sight to the blind. The lame are walking better than ever before through the advent of advanced materials and nerve-interfaced control systems. Horrendous diseases (like those of the lepers) are being studied and combated by techniques based in molecular biochemistry. Piezoelectric crystal cochlear implants deliver auditory signals to the deaf. The dead are being raised: people whose hearts have stopped (this was for a long time the definition of death) are restored by the recombination of a significant opposite charge stored separately on a capacitor. Through the use of electromagnetic and gravitational theory, the monitoring of oceans by satellite systems allows the poor to receive advance warning of pending disasters. In this way, the gospel is being preached through the use of science and technology to the "blind...lame...[sick]...deaf...dead...poor" (Mattthew 11:5 again). The redemptive work of Jesus Christ is continued by these advances. What an opportunity we have as Christians to participate in this!
I've been thinking about this as I prepare for my classes this fall. I don't often open my classes with prayer and/or Scripture reading, but try to infuse everything I do with a Christian perspective. I think it's especially important to discuss particularly Christian motivations for doing science to open students' eyes to a deeper, broader, and more fulfilling scope than they would if they simply see science as a necessary evil on the approach to a career. Instead, science is a calling by God for those whom he gifts in this way, and, like many of the early scientists, we can cultivate a worshipful attitude in our daily studying, homework, lab work, paper writing, and vocation preparation.